Greenhouse gas emissions lower in organic wheat production than conventional

A study published in Soil Science Society of America Journal shows that organic farming  emits fewer greenhouse gases and has lower global warming potential than conventional farming. The study system consisted of winter wheat under a five-year rotation with leguminous crops including alfalfa and lentils. The organic system incorporated livestock for weed and soil fertility management, and omitted all chemical inputs, while the conventional system managed weeds and pests with chemical sprays and used nitrogen fertilizer to manage soil nutrients. The researchers measured carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide (N2O), and methane gas (CH4) emissions throughout the five-year crop rotation, and found peak CO2 and N2O fluxes “after tillage, planting, fertilization, intense precipitation, and snowmelt” across the two management systems. Cumulative CO2 and N2O fluxes and overall global warming potential were lower for the organic system. Importantly, there were no differences for methane emissions between the two treatments, despite the organic system incorporating livestock. This research adds to the growing body of science that shows that organic production can be an important solution for climate change mitigation. 


Banner Photo Credit: Karsten Wurth;